Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ooh, Look... is in PRINT - Foodies of the World

There is a fantastic new book out,
Foodies of the World,
a 'Guide to the Best on the Web'. 

It gives you the story behind dozens of food blogs from Australia, Barbados, Canada, France, Germany, UK, USA and more.
It has over 100 recipes from these blogs.
It is filled with gorgeous photographs by the bloggers.
It contains profiles of internationally-recognised bloggers as well as some who are really worth discovering.
It is an invaluable guide to the diverse world of food blogs.

I'm in it !!!

When I was asked by the Slattery Media Group to contribute to this book a few months ago, I thought, 'Why not? It will be fun and I'd like to see what it ends up like'. Now that it's out, I'm blown away by the beautiful production of this book.
The paper is thick and matte, the text, recipes and photos are crisp and clear. And the content - it's so interesting to read about other blogs (and see pictures of the bloggers).
Of course, discovery of new food blogs is the main benefit, including some from 'exotic' places like Turkey and the Netherlands and some from right here in Australia.
In case you hadn't noticed, I'm pretty chuffed to be involved with this book!

How do you get it?
The book is available from good book stores from 1 October 2010. Recommended retail price is AU$40.
OR (even better)
You can purchase it using the exclusive link in the sidebar of this blog.  Or, click here to buy. Cost is AU$40 plus postage.

Why should you use the exclusive link?
Bloggers were not paid for their contribution to the book, but a small royalty is paid for any book purchases made through the link. So, if you are thinking of getting the book (and after this great rap, how can you not be convinced???), then it would be awesome if you could use my link for your purchases. Thank you!. 

My pages in the book (including delicious recipes!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Tale of Two Brunches at Efendy

There hasn’t been an Eating Out post here at Ooh, Look... for quite a while, has there? That’s because I’ve been cooking and eating at home like a thrifty, parsimonious, cost-effective, houseproud homebody! So there.

I did venture out a month or so ago, for brunch at Efendy restaurant, and again to Efendy last weekend. I think the lovely Spring weather is starting knock its warming, sunshiney fingers on this homebody’s door, so expect some more dining out experiences soon. I hope...

The previous time at Efendy was for the brilliant Journey to Istanbul dinner. This time, I met up with Rose, Trissa and Denea for a Balmain girls brunch. All being ‘locals’, Efendy is perfectly situated on the cusp of Rozelle, Birchgrove and Balmain to suit all of us.

Drinks all round – I went with the sour cherry and mastic smoothie. This was really good: sour cherry juice mixed with ice cream and milk. Just like a chocolate milkshake, only BETTER.

We shared some meze to start, and this included borek cigars, tomato, cucumber, fetta, sucuk (spicy sausage) and pastirma (thin slices of dried meat). And lashings of Turkish bread all round. I was holding myself back for my main dish, but still managed to make a sizeable dent in the mezze.
Then our mains (breakfast) arrived:
I had the Kallavi (big breakfast) – 2 fried eggs, mushrooms, more sucuk and pastirma. Denea had the Incirli Kaygana (pancake with figs and walnuts). Rose had Menemen (vegetarian scambled eggs) with a side of haloumi.  And I forgot to take a photo of Trissa’s dish (sorry!)
It was nice for us to chat and enjoy the food. If I remember correctly, some of the conversation decried the many ‘For Lease’ signs along Balmain’s Darling Street, and the movement of popular food haunts, such as Victoire bakery and the Adriano Zumbo cafe, to neighbouring Rozelle. And the service was brilliant, by the way, thanks in no small part to the presence of lovely Denea, who is a popular gal and knows everyone.
And last weekend, the sunny skies and great food brought me again to Efendy. We sat outside in the courtyard and enjoyed this:
Big breakfast – the meat and sausage was a bit drier this time, and the presentation not as pretty as my original version. But it still tasted good. I had Hellim, which is grilled haloumi cheese with poached eggs and asparagus. It was perfect. To drink, we had sour cherry juice and watermelon juice with mint, very refreshing after the salty haloumi and sucuk.

So that’s three fantastic visits out of three for Efendy. If you’re in the Balmain area on the weekend, you have to stop in for the brunch. It’s served from 9am to 2pm. Otherwise, the dinner menu is even more exotic. And there’s bound to be something to tempt you out of the house.

And my birthday week is coming up, so hopefully *fingers crossed* there will be a couple more eating out events really soon.

Efendy Modern Turkish Restaurant is at 79 Elliot St, Balmain, NSW. Ph: 02 9810 5466.
Open for Breakfast Saturday and Sunday. Lunch and Dinner Wednesday to Sunday.
Efendy Modern Turkish on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hello Spring: Alex Kearns' broad bean pancetta egg salad

If you read this blog, then you may be aware that I love my magazines. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, viz:
Pros -
 - food mags provide lots of inspiration for meals, cooking, eating out and food styling
 - home mags show you other people's amazing houses in the suburbs and it ignites a flame of hope that your house could be like that
 - fashion mags provide pics of Hollywood starlets in the latest trendy getup (good for a laugh)

Cons -
 - there are so many gorgeous food mags that I have to get them all, and I don't have any more shelf space
 - the beautiful homes are always owned by other people and I know that, really, there's no way my house could ever be like that
 - I have no idea who some of the starlets are, and just giving their first name doesn't help - who the heck are Fearne, Jess and Khloe??

Regardless of their shortcomings, though, any doubts about the usefulness of my magazines is swept aside when I spy a fabulous recipe (with photo), leather Swan chair (in white), or Daphne Guinness taking a tumble in ridiculous platform booties (thank goodness for paparazzi).
Case in point: this wonderful recipe from Gourmet Traveller. It's by chef Alex Kearns (of Glebe Point Diner and Neutral Bay Bar and Dining), and it's full fresh, zingy flavours and brilliant colours and textures.  It's the Dolce and Gabbana of spring eating.

Broad bean, pancetta and poached egg salad
serves 2 as a light meal

150g podded broad beans
4-5 thin slices pancetta
2 tblsp white wine vinegar
2 eggs, at room temperature
150g podded peas
2 tblsp parsley, finely chopped
1 tblsp mint, finely chopped
1/2 tblsp dill, finely chopped

Lemon vinaigrette
2 tblsp lemon juice
2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed

1.  Make the lemon vinaigrette: whisk together the lemon juice, sugar and a pinch of salt. Then whisk in the olive oil. Season with salt - the vinaigrette should be quite sweet. Add the garlic and stir.
2.  Put the broad beans in boiling water, and return to the boil for 3 minutes.  Peel the broad beans and set aside.
3.  For the pancetta: place the pancetta on a baking tray and heat in a 180C oven for 6-8 minutes, until crisp. Drain on paper towels then break into pieces.
4.  For the poached eggs: bring a shallow saucepan of water to the boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer, then add the vinegar. Crack an egg into a cup, and, one at a time, slide the egg into the water. Stir the water to make the eggwhite swirl around the yolk. Cook until soft, 3-4 minutes.  Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and drain.
5.  For the peas: cook peas in boiling water for 4 minutes.  Add the broad beans for the final 20 seconds, to warm through. Drain, transfer to a bowl, add the parsley, mint and dill, and mix together.
6.   Add half the vinaigrette to the beans and peas and toss to combine.  Add the pancetta pieces. Divide the salad among bowls, top with an egg. Drizzle with remaining dressing, season with black pepper, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller (Oct 2010)

 Ingredients: peas, broad beans (skins removed), pancetta and eggs.
I used frozen peas and broad beans which makes this dish possible even when they're not in season.

The lemon vinaigrette is sweet and tangy at the same time.
Really delicious.

And the soft-poached eggs let their runny centres meld into the salad...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Grand Marnier Truffles

Here is the final instalment of the petits fours trilogy: Grand Marnier truffles

Chocolate truffles are such a classic sweet. And it wasn't until I first made them (at a chocolate class here) that I realised that they are called truffles because they resemble the buried-in-dirt, pig-snout-discovering, black gems (that cost a fortune).

These Grand Marnier truffles follow the standard formula: rich, dark chocolate that's made more exciting by a spoonful or two of alcohol. Or, you can use a tablespoon (or two) of ground coffee instead - just as delicious without the booze.  And with their not-quite-perfect oval shape, they do look a lot like truffles.

Grand Marnier Truffles
makes about 30

175ml (6 fl oz) double cream (45% fat)
300g dark chocolate, melted
30g unsalted butter, chopped
3 tblsp Grand Marnier
unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting

1.  Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
2.  Melt the dark chocolate and mix with the cream.  The dark chocolate can be melted in the microwave oven, in bursts of 60 seconds, on low heat, stirring in between.
3.  Add the butter and stir until the butter melts. Stir in the Grand Marnier.
4.  Transfer mixture to a bowl and cover and refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.
5.  Remove the firmed chocolate from the refrigerator and roll teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Refrigerate balls until firm.
6.  Dip the balls into the sifted cocoa powder and refrigerate for an hour.

The truffles are best served at room temperature. They will keep for 10 days in the refrigerator.

Not being a *huge* drinker, a mini-bar bottle of liqueur was enough for this recipe

Rolling the chocolate into balls is a very messy business.
And no, you cannot just lick the chocolate off your hands...

The truffles were served in paper cases, for ease of use
And here is a final look at the petits fours lineup:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Introducing... Ooh, Look... CRAFT

Announcing a new CRAFT blog

I am moving my craft-related posts to a new blog.  And also taking the opportunity to (maybe) do a few more crafty projects.

I hope you'll come and visit Ooh, Look - Craft soon!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Elegant Palmiers

One of my favourite weekend treats is to pick up something sweet from the local boulangerie (Victoire) or pasticceria (Bertoni).  From Victoire, it's usually a rhubarb tart or palmier, or from Bertoni, it's a ricotta zuccerati or squashed Nutella donut.

And while the chances of my making a rhubarb tart or zuccerati at home are zilch, palmiers are really easy to do.  They are rolled slices of puff pastry, with sugar or sometimes a savoury cheese embedded in them.  The ones I made for the French dinner are small and many, though you can also make larger ones - the ones at Victoire are about 15cm (5 inches) long, and I admit that I sometimes struggle to eat it in one go... (for shame)

makes 50

1/4 cup raw sugar or white sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
375g (or 1 x 25cm/10in sheet) ready-rolled puff pastry
20g unsalted butter, melted

1.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl.  Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar on a clean work surface and place the pastry on top. Then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.
2.  Press the sugar down into the pastry by moving a rolling pin over the pastry.  Cut the pastry sheet in half, then brush each half with some of the melted butter.
3.  Roll up the each long side of a piece of pastry until they reach the middle.  Try and roll as tightly as possible.  Repeat with the other piece of pastry.
4.  Brush the rolls with the remaining melted butter, then wrap the rolls in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until firm.
5.  Preheat oven to 200 C / 400F.
6.  Remove pastry from the fridge and slice each roll into 1cm (1/2in) pieces. Place 2cm apart on a paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Palmiers will keep in an airtight container for 1 week.
Recipe adapted from Petits Fours (Murdoch Books)

Ingredients, including some very puffy Careme pastry

The cinnamon sugar mixture is embedded into the puff pastry, which is then brushed with melted butter, rolled, chilled, then sliced.

The palmiers are light and flakey, with delicious caramelised bits

And they are elegant enough to serve on a petits fours platter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not white rice - Spanish rice with chorizo and prawns

You've probably heard of the Chinese way of starting a conversation: "Have you eaten yet?" or another way of hearing it is, "Have you eaten rice yet?".
It sort of emphasises the Chinese reliance on rice and the feeling that no meal is complete without a bowl or two of rice, preferably plain, boiled rice.  In fact, I have relatives who insist on having buckets of hot, fluffy, white rice on hand even at family barbeques, because they know they won't like the food much (overcooked sausages? tough steak? 'just a small piece for me, thanks') and the rice will fill them up.

As a result of this mentality while growing up, I've never really liked white rice. Now that I'm older, I can see when the comfort of a bowl of rice is just the thing - when you're feeling peaky, for example.

And when confronted with an empty frypan at the end of a long day, there's nothing like throwing in a couple of ingredients, some rice and stock and coming up with .... delicious Spanish rice!

Spanish rice with prawns and chorizo
serves 2

1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red capsicum (pepper), chargrilled and peeled
1 chorizo, sliced
150g paella rice (or other short grain rice)
pinch of saffron
300ml chicken stock
100g prawns, peeled and cooked
parsley and lemon, to serve

1.  Heat the olive oil in a shallow frypan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
2.  Add the capsicum and chorizo and cook until the chorizo slices are browned on both sides.
3.  Add the rice and stir until coated in the oil.
4.  Stir the saffron into the chicken stock then add to the pan and stir well.  Cook the rice, covered, for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and the stock is absorbed.
5.  Stir in the prawns until heated through.
6.  Serve with lemon juice squeezed over and topped with parsley

Recipe adapted from olive magazine

Ingredients, including store-bought chargrilled capsicum

Serve the rice with lemon juice - and maybe some marinated olives

This paella-style dish is very easy to cook and really tastes good.
And it's just as comforting as plain boiled rice.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Chocolate Walnut Caramel Petit Fours

Pick a caramel, any caramel...

This is a quick post on some of the petits fours that I made for a joint French-inspired dinner the other week.  I thought I got off quite easily, with only the sweets and entree (of oysters) to prepare.  Until I decided to do three lots of petits fours...

Here is the first temptation: Chocolate-covered walnut caramels

{Deep voiceover}:
Experience the joy of tender, bite-sized pieces of gooey caramel, studded with walnuts and dipped in rich.dark.chocolate.  

Chocolate Walnut Caramels
makes about 50

100g unsalted butter, chopped
385g (1 tin) sweetened condensed milk
1 tblsp golden syrup
160g soft brown sugar
3/4 cup walnut pieces (or walnut crumbs)
300g dark chocolate, melted

1.  Mix the butter, condensed milk, golden syrup and brown sugar in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir until the butter melts and the sugar has dissolved.  Increase heat so that the mixture slowly boils, and stir for 10 minutes until it leaves the side of the pan.
2.  Remove from the heat and stir walnuts into the caramel, then pour into a 20cm (8 inch) square cake tin lined with baking paper. Leave to set at room temperature.
3.  After the caramel has set, remove from the tin and cut into 8 pieces.  Roll each piece into a log about 2.5cm (1 inch) thickness.  Place the logs onto a paper-lined tray and refrigerate 2 hours or until firm.
4.  Remove caramel logs from the fridge and cut into 2cm (3/4 inch) pieces.  Dip the pieces into the dark chocolate - use a fork to dip and drain. Place the caramels onto a paper-lined tray, top with some walnut crumbs, then refrigerate until the chocolate sets.

Caramels will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.
Recipe adapted from Petits Fours (Murdoch Books)


Look at all that sugar and condensed milk (dentists, look away).
The caramel will firm up, then it's rolled into wobbly logs (the caramel is quite soft).

I really didn't feel like dipping all those caramels, so some were wrapped in greaseproof paper.  Without the chocolate coating, the caramels are fudgey and moreish. 

An army of dipped walnut caramels.

These choc walnut caramels are perfect with coffee.

And here is a sneak peek of the other petits fours...
Something to look forward to!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

At Home

A while ago, I was invited to a friend's place for a delicious steamboat dinner, and with a total of three (3!) Frenchmen in attendance, the guests' conversation turned as it often does, to FOOD.  So we made a date there and then to get together for a French Degustation Dinner (with matching wines).

Each person was assigned a dish to prepare, and I must say, everyone's efforts exceeded expectations.  Here is what we had.

Caroline was our lovely hostess, and she provided the gorgeous table setting. 
The menu looks très professionnel, non?

Aperitif: Brown Brothers Moscato. A sweet, refreshing wine, served chilled.
Starter: Huitre (Oysters). Sydney Rock oysters with soy and sesame dressing, and Pacific oysters with pickled ginger and wasabi granita (oysters were from Joe's Seafood in Balmain [picked up by Will], sauces by Bel)
Champagne: Piper Heidsieck Brut

Entree: Steak Tartare (by Teresa)
Using the finest aged eye fillet, Teresa finely hand-diced the meat and combined it with lemon zest, red onion, capers and anchovies before mixing in an organic egg.  Served with toasted bread.
This was one of the best steak tartares I've ever had.

Second entree: Coquille avec le brocoli (Braised Scallops with broccoli sauce) (by Teresa)
Another brilliant dish, the plump fresh scallops were topped with a broccoli, white wine and garlic sauce, then oven-baked.
Sorbet (lemon sorbet with passionfruit) (by Caroline).  Apologies for not getting a photo of this, but rest assured it was a pleasant palate-cleanser in preparation for the main course.

Main: Fillet de barramundi au beurre rouge (barramundi with red wine sauce) (by Serge)
Beautiful fillet of baked fish, with pan-fried potato, pumpkin and onion and a rich, red wine sauce. See the impressive plating-up pic above.

Salad: Salade fenouil (fennel salad) (by Teresa)
Refreshing strips of fennel and celeriac in a mild cream sauce.
Wine: Instinct pinot noir (Marlborough, New Zealand)

Fromage (cheese) (by Emmanuel)
The cheeses were a sublime fromage de Clarines (out of the box) and a soft washed-rind cheese (didn't catch the name, but it was lovely with French bread).
Petits fours (by Bel)
These included cinnamon palmiers, walnut caramel chocolates and Grand Marnier truffles. I will post the recipes later...
Dessert wines: McGuigan botrytis (1994) and Brown Brothers Orange Muscat and Flora.

Feeling totally stuffed satiated after this amazing meal, we made our way into the night with plans for a joint barbeque banquet in a few months' time. It will surely be another meal to remember.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Encore Crab and Tomato Spaghetti

This delicious 'encore' recipe is brought to you by my shocking memory.

I'm talking about my medium-to-short-term memory.  Because I found this lovely-looking recipe on the internet (as usual), bought the ingredients, prepared and photographed the dish, ate it (very nice it was, too), did the washing up. Then I sat down with a magazine and enjoyed the rest of my evening. Then I went to bed, and as I was drifting off, a sudden thought hit me: "I've made that pasta dish before!"

Of course, you can't go back to sleep after that. And this is where I found evidence of prior visitation, here.  That's right, I made the same recipe less than 12 months ago. So, no point in letting these photos go to waste. And is was a lovely meal, after all.
Note: Medical research has shown that increased consumption of fatty, omega 3-rich fish may help memory retention. Oh, so that's why a diet that's high in chocolate doesn't... um, something, something.

Crab and Tomato with Spaghetti
serves 2

60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
5 anchovy fillets
4 ripe tomatoes, chopped into 2cm (1 inch) pieces
200g tinned or fresh crabmeat
300g dried spaghetti or linguine
2 tblsp parsley, chopped
1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until softened.
2. Add anchovy fillets and stir until dissolved. Add tomato and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Stir in the crab and season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and add to crab mixture.
5. Toss to combine and serve topped with parsley and cracked black pepper. Drizzle some olive oil over the top, if desired.

Recipe adapted from

Ingredients, including roma tomatoes, onion, tinned crabmeat and anchovies.

That's quite a big plate of spaghetti!

Maybe next time, I'll use Atlantic salmon instead of crab
(every bit of omega-3 helps the creaky old brain).

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Little Black Duck with Orange Pomegranate Sauce

After discovering the Joys of Duck recently, I now can't get enough of it. Duck has always seemed like a rich, gouty, old-fashioned meat to cook, but it really depends on how you treat it.  At home, simpler is easier, and, for me at least, a quick pan-fry on the stovetop is preferable to a slow bake-baste-carve from the oven.

I found this recipe on the Essential Ingredient website, and the sauce of orange and pomegranate molasses collaborates beautifully with the duck.  And as always when cooking with the fatty skin, you end up with lots of duck fat to use another time for roasted potatoes.

Duck Breast with Pomegranate Sauce
Serves 4

4 x 200g duck breast fillets, skin on
1 tablespoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pomegranate Sauce
1 cup (250ml) freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
1/3 cup soft brown sugar (or less to taste)
1 tablespoon honey
3 whole star anise
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses

1. To make the sauce, combine the orange juice, sugar, honey and star anise in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in the pomegranate molasses. Strain into a jug and keep warm (or reheat in microwave if making ahead).
2. Meanwhile, cut deep slashes in the duck skin. Combine salt, ground coriander, five spice and pepper and rub into the skin.
3. Barbecue or pan-fry the duck breasts, skin side down, over medium heat, for about 6 – 8 minutes or until skin is well browned. (If you start with a cold pan more of the fat renders down, resulting in a much crisper skin.) Turn duck breasts and cook, flesh side down for 1-2 minutes for medium-rare or longer if you prefer. Transfer to a warmed plate and cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Drain off the duck fat to use in other recipes.
4. Cut the duck into thin slices and serve drizzled with the pomegranate sauce and some green vegetables on the side.

Recipe adapted from here.

Ingredients for the sauce and rub - you can also use blood orange, and it gives a wonderful ruby-red colour to the sauce.

After rubbing the five-spice powder, salt and black pepper on the duck skin, pan-fry the duck to crisp up the skin.  There was a lot of fat on these duck breasts, and I maybe could have rendered a bit more fat off them...

The duck is served with steamed broccolini and shiitake mushrooms.
Result: This little black duck is very happy.